South Carolina is known for sweet tea, peaches, mountains and beaches, but the state really stands out when it comes to higher education, too.
The southern state boasts a diverse list of postsecondary schools, including several large public research universities, and plenty of smaller private colleges focused on the arts, religion or military training.
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Most students have access to online learning opportunities and financial aid resources, as well.
Overview of Higher Education in South Carolina
South Carolina is home to 67 degree-granting institutions, according to a 2018-2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Of these, 33 are public schools, 23 are private non-profit schools, and 11 are private for-profit schools.
NCES data shows that tuition in the state is thousands of dollars above the national average. In-state tuition and fees at South Carolina’s public 4-year institutions run about $13,013, on average. Out-of-state students will pay around $32,174.
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Students who have trouble finding schools that offer their chosen major can take advantage of the state’s involvement in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), which encourages resource sharing among 16 participating states. Through this program, South Carolina students can enroll in degree programs in nearby states while paying in-state tuition rates.
About Online Colleges in South Carolina
2018 data from the NCES indicated that 10.7% of college students in South Carolina were enrolled exclusively in courses at online colleges. Another 22.3% were participating in a hybrid of online and on-campus courses. These numbers continue to rise as colleges increase their online course offerings.
University of South Carolina (UofSC) offers more than 1000 online courses, which can lead to special certifications, undergraduate, or graduate degrees. The selection of programs at the graduate level is especially diverse, covering arts, sciences, engineering, education, nursing, information science, and more. Several of UofSC’s master’s programs have been recognized by U.S. News and World Reports.
Clemson University offers several online degrees and certificate programs, in both fully online and blended formats. Online graduate-level programs are available in Athletic Leadership, Construction Science, Wildlife and Fisheries Resources, and many other areas. Clemson’s online graduate degree program for Education was ranked #1 in the nation by U.S. News and World Reports.
Online programs like the ones at UofSC and Clemson, and those at public colleges throughout the state, are monitored by the state’s Commission on Higher Education (CHE). The CHE has a comprehensive set of standards and principles that guide distance education and prioritize quality instruction and equitable access, among other things.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in South Carolina
In order to attend one of South Carolina’s colleges or universities, you will first need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can provide access to federal, state, and private financial aid. Financial aid is typically awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s important to fill out the FAFSA as early as possible. It will be available starting on October 1st of the year before you plan to attend college.
The FAFSA application will require you to provide financial information for yourself and your parents (unless you’re considered “independent” by FAFSA’s standards). Your answers will help determine how much and what type of aid you qualify for. In addition to federal assistance, residents of South Carolina may also receive aid through the following programs:
- Palmetto Fellows Scholarship – Merit-based with specific academic requirements; Administered by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education; Up to $6700 for freshmen, up to $7500 per year for sophomores, juniors and seniors; Additional funds available for students majoring in an approved math or science program
- Legislative Incentive for Future Excellence (LIFE) Scholarship – Merit-based ; Administered by the financial aid office at each eligible school; Award amounts vary based on school and program duration; Enhancement program available for students majoring in an approved math or science program, with additional guidelines, for up to $10,000 per year beginning with sophomore year
- South Carolina HOPE Scholarship – Merit-based for students attending a 4-year institution who do not qualify for the LIFE or Palmetto Fellows Scholarships; Up to $2800
- South Carolina Need-Based Grant – For the neediest students; Up to $2500 per year if full-time, Up to $1250 per year if part-time
- Lottery Tuition Assistance Program – For students at 2-year institutions; Up to $1140 per term if full-time, or $95 per credit hour if part-time
- South Carolina National Guard College Assistance Program (SCNG CAP) – For members of the South Carolina Army and Air National Guard; Up to $4500 for Army National Guard and up to $9000 for Air National Guard, per year
- South Carolina Workforce and Industrial Needs Scholarship (SC WINS) – technical college scholarship program designed to address workforce shortages in South Carolina; Covers any tuition and mandatory fees left after applying all other scholarships or grants
The financial aid received through the programs listed above does not have to be repaid.
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You can find more “free money for college” by looking for private scholarships, which you can find using search sites like Fastweb.com. Here are a few examples of those available to South Carolinians:
|Scholarship Name||Scholarship amount|
|African American Network of the Carolinas||$2000|
|Betty Feezor Scholarship||Varies|
|Cancer for College Carolinas Scholarship||$1000-5000|
|Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship||Amount varies|
|South Carolina Press Association Scholarship||$1000|
Finally, you may be eligible to receive aid through the college or university you choose. To find out more, you will need to check with the school’s financial aid office.
List of Online Colleges in South Carolina
|Online Colleges in South Carolina||Annual Tuition||Application Fee|
|Columbia International University||$21,490||$0|
|University of South Carolina||$11,454||$65|
Indeed, there is more to South Carolina than beautiful landscapes. The state is home to 67 top-notch colleges and universities, with online and on-campus opportunities to help launch you into a successful career.